Amazon soya agreement extended until year’s end

Press release - 31 January, 2014
Brasília, 31 January 2014 - A landmark moratorium on Brazilian soya that was set to end today has been, after long negotiations, renewed for one last year. The initiative prevents major traders selling soya that may be linked to deforestation in the Amazon, which has recently been increasing.

The extension of the moratorium comes just a couple of months after the Brazilian government announced a 28 per cent increase in Amazon deforestation rates. This was the first official data on Amazon deforestation to come to light since Brazil controversially changed the Forest Code in 2012. This move, backed by the country’s powerful farmers’ lobby, weakened legislation on forest conservation and land use.

Paulo Adario, Senior Forest Advisor for Greenpeace International tentatively welcomed today’s decision:

"By agreeing to extend the Soya Moratorium, traders are responding to their customers’ demands for Brazilian soya without deforestation, as well as listening to the Brazilian government and civil society. Although they have committed to keep the upcoming soya harvest free from Amazon deforestation, the challenges ahead remain enormous as long term protection is still to be secured."

The Soya Moratorium monitors 62 municipalities responsible for almost all of the soya produced in the Amazon. In this immense region, over 8 million hectares are covered by forested lands suitable for soya cultivation, and lack any official protection. The moratorium has been keeping bulldozers away from here - an area three times the size of Belgium (1).

Central to Brazil’s amended Forest Code is the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), which is still being developed. Fast-tracking this registration of rural properties is essential for bringing further governance to the Amazon and monitoring those responsible for deforestation. The Soya Working Group (GTS) has agreed to design a mechanism to replace the moratorium once it expires. This is to be developed and tested over 2014 and will be focussed on the implementation of the Federal CAR (SICAR).

“Deforestation on the rise again and new soya export infrastructure is in the pipeline at the heart of the Amazon, so the discussions ahead are critical. Today is the start of those negotiations. Only the talks - and the actual steps taken - over the next year will define how seriously the soya traders take forest protection, their industry and clients. A new agreement must be even more robust than the current moratorium,” said Adario.

Greenpeace will continue to work to end deforestation as it strives to prevent catastrophic climate change - the two major threats to the planet’s largest remaining rainforest.

(1) Source: Areas with Potential for Soya Planting by Prof. Britaldo Soares, UFMG (Minas Gerais Federal University), areas under GTS (Soya Working Group) monitoring by ABIOVE (Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industry) / INPE (Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research), deforestation satellite images by PRODES (Program for the Calculation of Deforestation in the Amazon) /INPE, data analysis by Greenpeace GeoLab.

- On July 24th 2006, ABIOVE and ANEC (National Association of Cereals Exporters) announced a two-year moratorium on buying soya from newly deforested areas in the Amazon or from farmers using indentured or forced labourers. That agreement has been renewed regularly and expired on January 31st 2014. The moratorium followed an investigation by Greenpeace that proved that soya cultivation has become a new threat to the Amazon. A Soya Working Group (GTS) including ABIOVE, ANEC, soya traders, NGOs and social organisations was established in October 2006 to ensure the implementation of the moratorium.

- The Soya Moratorium has helped reduce deforestation in the Amazon. Since 2006, over 700,000 hectares of forest has been cleared in the 62 soya-producing municipalities that are monitored under the moratorium. These municipalities account for 97% of soya grown within the Amazon ecosystem. Only 4% of the 700,000 hectares of land cleared after 2006 - some 30,000 hectares - was planted with soya in the soya planting season of 2012-13. Source: INPE/GTS

- A European alliance of soya consumer companies, led by McDonald's, which includes Carrefour, Nestle, Tesco, Ahold, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Asda, called for the extension of the moratorium beyond January 2014 and were prepared to renew their commitment to remaining actively engaged in the GTS.

- ABIOVE and ANEC members, including major commodities giants Cargill, Bunge, ADM, Dreyfus and the Brazilian-based Ammagi are responsible for more than 90% of the Brazilian soya trade.

Luana Lila, Greenpeace Brazil press team - /+55 92 8114-4516
Dannielle Taaffe, Greenpeace Int’l press team - / +31 634 73 87 90

Greenpeace International Press team, Amsterdam +31 20 7182470
Greenpeace International Picture team: +31 20 718 24 71
Greenpeace International Video team: +31 20 718 24 72